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Sen.McConnell's floor speech on Bur
- Subject: Sen.McConnell's floor speech on Bur
- From: freeburma@xxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 04 Oct 1996 23:12:00
Subject: Sen.McConnell's floor speech on Burma (10/03)
Attn: Free Burma Activists
Re: Sen.McConnell's floor speech on Burma (10/03/96)
Related Web Sites: http://www.clark.net/pub/burmaus/
BURMA SANCTIONS (Senate - October 03, 1996)
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, over the weekend, more than 500 Burmese
citizens were arrested--more than double the number picked up in an
outrageous sweep back in May.
And, their crime, Mr. President? Their crime was an effort to
participate in a conference on the future of democracy called by Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma 's legitimately elected leader.
Just as discouraging as the arrests is the action taken against Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi. The street to her home has been cut off by armed guards,
and I understand over 100 troops have been deployed in and around her
Her weekly addresses to supporters have been cut off.
Her movements are completely restricted.
In fact, when I asked if anyone from our embassy had direct contact with
her, I was told the phone lines have been cut along with access to her
So, at this moment, as I speak, there is no certainty as to her physical
well-being--we have no idea what condition Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is
in--we have no idea what SLORC goons may be doing within her home, now,
But, I want to remind my colleagues of something terribly important that
this courageous woman has repeatedly emphasized--she is not the
issue--she is only a symbol, a champion for her nation's freedom.
Her cause, her call to us is to restore democracy to her beleaguered
homeland, Burma .
Mr. President, I have come to the floor today, once again, to call upon
the administration to take decisive action to assist Aung San Suu Kyi
and her supporters.
This time, the circumstances are different.
On Monday, when the President signed the omnibus appropriations bill,
the foreign operations section included provisions setting a new policy
course for Burma .
Although many of my colleagues agreed with language I had included in
the bill which imposed immediate sanctions, the Senate and the foreign
operations conferees agreed to a weaker position offered by my colleague
from Maine and endorsed by the adminstration.
This language, which the administration supported, required a ban on new
investment under specific conditions.
The administration agreed to move forward `if the Burmese government has
physically harmed, rearrested for political acts or exiled Aung San Suu
Kyi or has committed large-scale repression of or violence against the
That's exactly what the law requires.
Ironically, in the case of defining repression, every official I spoke
with suggested sanction would be invoked if SLORC took action similar to
the May offensive--I might add, no one actually believed SLORC would be
so ruthless to repeat so sweeping and offensive an attack on peaceful
Mr. President, in the past this administration has issued ultimatums to
In 1994, Tom Hubbard, then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Asian
Affairs traveled to Rangoon and warned SLORC that if we did not see
improvements in human rights, democracy, and drug trafficking, the
United States would take appropriate punitive action.
SLORC immediately challenged the demarche and launched a massive
military attack against ethnic groups generating more than 80,000
refugees. Attacks in the countryside were matched by rounding up
democracy advocates in Rangoon.
America's response? The administration looked the other way.
The next year, Ambassador Albright traveled to Rangoon and repeated the
message and saw
virtually the same results--massive detentions, torture, and arrests--a
complete rejection of our concerns and interests.
Now, we are faced with the worst deterioration of the internal situation
since the stolen elections in 1990.
SLORC has accused Aung San Suu Kyi of collaborating with outside groups
and foreign embassies against the interests of Burma . Senior officials
have denounced the legislation just signed into law--there is no
question the recent events reflect SLORC's decision to directly
challenge America's commitment to democracy and its champions so
obviously under siege.
This time, SLORC is challenging more than an ultimatum issued in a
meeting of State Department officials--this time the junta is
challenging American law.
There are few countries I can identify these days with regimes so
repugnant, unjust, and ruthless as SLORC.
They represent a direct and dangerous threat not only to their own
citizens but ours as well.
A few weeks ago, I was sent photographs of senior SLORC military
intelligence officers enjoying a meal with Khun Sa, the region's most
notorious opium warlord.
These pictures would convince even the most singleminded SLORC business
crony that doing
business with SLORC is subsidizing and doing business with drug
traffickers--and even oil companies with so much on the line in Burma ,
have to recognize that those kind of relationships are not in America's
Mr. President, I understand the NSC will convene a deputies meeting
today at 3 to review options for Burma .
No doubt one of the options will be a ban on visas. Let me make clear to
anyone in the
administration listening--such a step is not enough.
When we were in conference on the foreign operations bill, the
administration pledged to issue a Presidential order banning visas to
SLORC officials if we would agree to modify our language making such an
action mandatory. We did and we expect the administration to live up to
this commitment which was made long before the actions taken this
Nothing short of fulfilling the additional obligations spelled out in
law will meet the test our Nation and our credibility face today in
Democracy is under siege--meaningful support and time are running
out--lives are on the line. I urge the President to take swift action to
save a nation, its people, and American honor.
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